Last week I shared Pap’s recipe for gritted bread made from fresh corn with you. He also showed me how to make parched corn. Parching corn was another way folks made use of the dried corn they had gathered from their fields to feed themselves and their animals through the winter months.
Granny as a small girl with her mother Gazzie
Granny’s mother told her while she was pregnant with her she practically lived on parched corn. In later years Granny said her mother would parch corn and then go set on the steps where she’d place the corn in a little white cloth and crush it with a hammer before she ate it.
Pap with his Mother and Father
Pap said families would sit around at night and parch corn over the fire and then eat it as a snack-kinda like we do popcorn. He also said folks would parch corn to carry around in their pocket as snack on the go. He said it wasn’t unusual to be standing around talking and see someone pull out a little bag of parched corn to eat.
Pap had some field corn he had grown and dried for Granny to make hominy with. He sent me outside with some of it to shake from bowl to bowl to get the chaff off.
Next Pap melted a little butter in a cast iron frying pan and added the corn. He kept stirring it around to make sure it didn’t burn, but browned evenly. You could hear it popping and a few kernels even popped half way open like a kernel of popcorn sometimes will. After it had browned evenly Pap salted the corn.
You can see the finished product. The corn tasted like popcorn kernels to me. Some were easy to chew up some were impossible. Pap said the corn they grew when he was a boy made better parched corn than what we had to work with. I can see why folks would like parched corn and even crave it. Think of a world where there was no potato-chips, Cheetos, or corn-chips. Parched corn would fit the bill for a salty crunchy snack.
I have one memory about parched corn.
Pap’s Mother, Marie, kept me when I was little. She died when I was in 5th grade so most of my memories of her are centered around the days I spent with her in her tiny house. I’d prowl around the kitchen that always seemed to smell of sweet tea and coffee while she made me something to eat, usually grits because I loved grits with sugar and butter.
I remember she was standing at the stove cooking and I asked her what she was making. She said “Parched corn. You’d like it if you’d try it.”
Have you ever had parched corn?